“We, the oil contract workers at refineries, petrochemical and power plants, are resuming our nationwide strikes and protesting, as we have stated, in protest of low wages and the daily decline in our purchasing power and the failure to deliver on (their) promises, we will pursue our demands by gathering in front of our work centers.” This was how the statement of “Organizing Council of Laborers Protests” began which was released on Sunday, June 20, 2021. But this was not the beginning of this new round of strikes. Two days before the announcement, the Free Trade Union of Iran reported on Friday, June 18, that “oil workers in the Marine Operations Unit of the Iranian Oil Terminals Company in Khark Island region went on strike.” The oil workers’ strike was formed in “protest of the stupid interpretation and cruel discrimination of the 2021 public increases’ law.” The strikers “refused to deliver and dock the 100,000-tonne Artavil tanker leased by the National Oil Tanker Company, which was to load 630,000 barrels of crude oil to be transported to the Bandar Abbas refinery, and the ship was forced to stop at anchorage.”
“We, the oil workers, are fed up with the security (oppressive) atmosphere of our workplaces and this situation must end,” part of the statement issued by the organizing council said. “We have the inalienable right to organize, gather and protest.” Monday, June 21, 2021, one day after the announcement, the Asaloyeh Phase 14 contract workers left their jobs in support of the Khark Island oil workers and joined the strike: Payndan workers in phase 14, Satrap contract workers and welders of Exir Oil Industry Company.
The workers’ strike spread on Tuesday, June 22, 2021, in other cities and industrial centers of the country. What do the workers want? Some of the workers’ demands, as stated in the statement of the Organizing Council, include:
“-The wages of any oil worker should not be less than 12 million Toman (about $500, today’s free market rate), and the salary level must rise immediately, and as the price of goods rises, so should the wages. In addition, other workers’ wage levels must be agreed upon with the elected representatives of the workers.
-Delaying the payment of wages is a crime and an obvious theft. Salaries must be paid on time each month.
-We are protesting against temporary and contract work and we want the contractors to be cut, we demand job security and permanent employment contracts. The dismissal of a worker should be forbidden.”
Thus, the labor campaign of “Campaign 1400 (2021)” was launched on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. Workers in the oil, petrochemical and power industries in the cities of Bushehr, Abadan, Isfahan, Kangan, Tehran, Behbahan and Gachsaran joined the strikes. Prior to the strike, permanent oil workers issued an ultimatum to the Ministry of Oil stating that “unless the general wage increase in 2021 is changed by June 22 and wages are not increased, they will hold a rally on June 30.” In the statement issued on Sunday regarding the timing of the strikes and the nature of their “warning”, the workers’ ultimatum was also mentioned: “Our strike is a warning strike and will last for a week, and on June 30 we will join the ranks of our permanent colleagues who have announced their protest.”
“These companies have nothing to do with the Ministry of Oil and are private,” Kasra Nouri, the director general of public relations at the Ministry of Oil, said in the first and only official response of the government to the protests and workers’ demands on Tuesday, June 22. This statement of indifference and irresponsibility to the problems and demands of the workers provoked a practical response. Tehran Oil Refinery fired 700 protest workers in bulk on Tuesday. This action contains a very clear message to the workers: In the Islamic Republic, worker has no right to protest and strike, and if he disobeys, he will be fired and repressed.
In recent months, trade union protests in various industries and sectors across the country have become more intense and widespread. In the weeks leading up to the “boycotted presidential election“, Social Security retirees and workers in the electricity and telecommunications industries were shouting in street rallies across the country every day: “We heard so many lies, we are not voting anymore.” People did not vote. The government appointed its mark as the president. The rift between the people and the system suddenly expanded its mouth and the world was watching its depth. Today’s workers’ strikes are along the lines of “We no longer vote” and “No to the Islamic Republic.” Along overthrowing the regime.
Companies and centers reportedly joining the nationwide strikes during “Campaign 1400 (2021)”:
Marine Operation Workers of Iran Oil Terminals Company, Khark
Sina Qeshm Refining Company
Jahan Pars Company
Phase 13 Kangan
Qeshm Oil Tanks Company
“Omran Sanat” Petrochemical, South Pars Gas Field
Phase 13 (Akhtar phase) South Pars
Project workers of EJC Company of Abadan Refinery
Jahan Pars Petrochemical Company
Hajipour Contract Workers
Behbahan Bidboland Refinery
Satrap Sanat Company
Tehran Oil Refinery’s Overhaul Company
South Adish Refinery
Arak Machinery Company
Exir Industrial Company
Translation of this post by Sahar.